‘Tis the season of the flu, common cold, bronchitis, sinus infections and other uninvited respiratory ailments. The good news is that besides following your doctor’s orders, a simple multi-prong strategy can help you suffer less and heal faster. Several so-called folk remedies, used around the world for thousands of years, have been scientifically proven effective, not merely as symptom suppressors, but supportive of the body’s systems involved in healing.
Many common grocery-store foods, such as green leafy veggies, onion, garlic, carrots, hot peppers and chicken, help strengthen immunity. In addition to their well known high levels of vitamins and minerals, they also contain natural agents that act as detoxifiers, decongestants, expectorants, are muco-kinetic (mucus moving and thinning), anti-bacterial, anti-viral and anti-inflammatory. Each of these foods offers its own unique and highly potent combinations of phytochemicals (plant chemicals), quercetin, sulfuraphane, glutathione, cystein, allicin and capsaicin, to name just a few.
Steaming hot home-prepared beverages and soups made with fresh additive-free ingredients and sipped throughout the day can play a major role in reducing misery and accelerating recovery. Some examples: squeeze three tablespoons fresh lemon juice into a mug, add half a teaspoon honey and fill with hot water; make a cup of ginger tea from one teaspoon peeled and finely grated ginger root, add boiling water and let steep for 15 minutes. Spicy food helps relieve congestion.
Cook up a big pot of soup, your “heavy artillery,” powered with tons of onion, garlic, yellow, green and orange vegetables. Refrigerate this healing goodness, and then heat up only the amount needed. If you are feeling too sick to cook, perhaps a loved one or a kind neighbor can help. Chicken cooked in water releases cystein, a natural amino acid that helps thin and expel mucus and detoxify the body. Avoid using commercial canned soups and vegetables. Replete with unhealthy additives and cooked to death, they offer little or no nutrition, nor the therapeutic effects you desire.
As in any condition, sending your respiratory illness packing requires a holistic approach. Dress warm, and exercise lightly to boost circulation. Get plenty of rest, and avoid consuming sugar and fried food. So take advantage of nature’s pharmacy and try the deliciously healing recipes included here.
CHICKEN-VEGETABLE SOUP (4 servings)
Chicken bones (skinless necks, backs etc.), or 6 skinless chicken drumsticks
8 cups water
2 large yellow onions, chopped
8 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 large tomato, chopped
2 small carrots, sliced
1 stalk celery, sliced
4 tablespoons dried dill weed
Salt and pepper to taste
¾ cup whole wheat spaghetti, broken into 2 inch sticks
10 sprigs parsley leaves, chopped
Place the water and bones or drumsticks in a large pot. Cover and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat and simmer 20 minutes. Add all other ingredients, except parsley, and cook 15 minutes longer. After soup is done, if chicken drumsticks were used, transfer them to a plate, remove the meat off bones and chop. Return meat to soup and add parsley.
KALE WITH GINGER (4 servings)
7 cups kale leaves shredded (stems removed)
4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1-1/2 tablespoons peeled, finely grated fresh ginger root
2 cloves garlic, finely grated
2 teaspoons soy sauce
3 tablespoons roasted sesame seeds
Save stems for another use (soup or stew). Steam kale about 12 minutes until wilted. When kale is done, drain well and set aside. Meanwhile, in medium bowl, combine the oil, ginger, garlic, and soy sauce. Mix well. Add kale and toss with the sesame seeds.
HEALING ONION SOUP (4 servings)
4 large Spanish or yellow onions
6 cups water
8 cloves garlic, chopped
Salt and pepper to taste
1 dried bay leaf
2 teaspoons dried tarragon or dill
5 tablespoons olive oil
3 tablespoons lemon juice
Trim tops and bottoms of the onions. Cut the onions in half lengthwise, and then again, cut each half into two, lengthwise. Peel onions. Thinly slice each quarter crosswise. In a large saucepan, place the water, onions, garlic, salt, pepper, bay leaf, and tarragon. Cover; bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat to medium-low and cook 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Mix in the oil and cook 5 more minutes. Remove from stove. Discard bay leaf and stir in lemon juice.